[Note: Medium’s earning model was just changed (starting November 2019) and this post is in need of an update! However, I will need to wait a month or two before I can gather enough data to write more on this new model. For now, just know that unlike calculating how much money a writer earns based on the number of claps a writer receives in a certain piece, from other paid Medium members, the new earning model will now take into account how long a reader (who is a paid Medium member) spends time reading the piece. The post below still has some general good practices when it comes to writing on Medium, so feel free to give it a read, however, do come back in a month or two for an updated post with the new earning model implemented. Peace!]
Well, that blows!
Only $100 a month?
OK fine, you got me. $100 may not be all that much to a lot of folks, but if you’ve ever suffered a serious financial crisis in your life, then you know how it is. EVERY. PENNY. COUNTS!
I know because I have! Counted pennies, yeah…
But really, think about this.
The idea of traditional blogging can be daunting for many people because this is often more than just writing great content. In fact, I spend more time promoting my blog posts, creating multiple graphics for every single post so that it doesn’t look like I’m spamming when I Pin the same post over and over, thinking of new strategies to get more traffic on my blog, thinking us topics that my ideal readers would love to read, wondering what kind of freebies my readers can use right away, yada yada yada… the list is basically endless.
Actual writing? I do that for about 4-5 hours a week (for this blog). And that’s about it.
But you see, I love writing. And not just writing about “how to start a blog” or “which blogging platform is the best for new bloggers”, but I like to write about a whole bunch of other stuff!
So, what does someone like me do? Start 17 different blogs? Trust me, I’ve tried. And I’ve failed.
But then Medium came along and solved all my problems.
It’s crazy that it took me so long to finally start writing on this platform, but well, better late than never I guess.
Here’s the cool thing about Medium.
Some of the things that may be keeping you from starting a traditional blog, such as social media marketing, email list building, constantly promoting, scheduling, pinning, etc., are no factors when it comes to Medium.
On Medium, you have an existing readership. You don’t have to go out looking for your ideal readers. In fact, you don’t even need to know who your ideal readers are, something you must know when it comes to personal blogs such as TSB. There are people from all over the world and from all walks of life who’re thirsty for great content. A whole bunch of people goes to Medium for just that — to read!
And that’s why it’s way easier to get people to read your articles on Medium than on a traditional, self-hosted blog.
AND the best part? You can make money by writing on Medium.
I’ll get to that shortly, but first, let me clarify something.
A Traditional Blog vs. Medium
You may be wondering, am I trying to indirectly say that it’s better to blog on Medium rather than starting your own?
Not at all.
I’m not discouraging you from starting a traditional blog. In fact, if you want to make a living off of blogging, then I’ll just go ahead and say it right now, Medium ain’t for that.
But what if you’re a side-blogger like me? Then should you still start a traditional blog?
Listen, blogging for me is not just blogging. It’s much more than that. It’s been about 8 months since I started this blog, and my earning has been super inconsistent. In fact, some months I make more off of Medium than I do from this blog (even without doing any of the extra work I do for this blog other than writing).
Why Then Do I Have a Traditional, Self-Hosted Blog?
I plan on continuing this blog for a number of reasons:
- While traditional blogging may need some time to take off, once it does, the rewards can be great. Just in terms of monetary gain, a traditional blog has a much better chance of making more money for less work. Eventually. Initially though, you need to put in a TON of work for almost nothing in return.
- Blogging isn’t just about writing or making money. A traditional blog such as this one has yet another purpose. Helping. A traditional blogger’s role is to help by educating, sharing, teaching, showing, and however many ways a blogger puts out their content to help hundreds and thousands of readers every single day!
- You own your blog. A blog that you host yourself, like TSB here, for example. A blog that you’ve designed (or hired someone to design for you), one that you’ve seen grow from the ground up. It’s a labor of love. It’s a complete package. No matter how much I write on Medium, the joy I get from seeing this blog grow, seeing the number of email subscribers go up every day, seeing my Pinterest followers increase, seeing my share-counts go higher… man, that’s something I won’t trade for anything else!
You sort of miss that on Medium.
Can you make money on Medium? Sure! (I mean, that’s what this blog post is about, after all, I’m just taking my sweet time getting there.) You won’t be making a whole lot, but if your goal isn’t to make a whole lot to begin with, then sure, Medium is great for that! In fact, many Medium writers do just that!
Can you help people on Medium? Absolutely! But you’ll have a harder time getting dedicated readers. That’s a thing about traditional blogs. It’s so much more personal! And your readers appreciate that. Some of your readers probably come to your blog just because they want to be supportive of you, and they like your way of doing things. And helping these dedicated readers requires a dedicated space meant for just you and your readers. You can’t have that on Medium.
Medium is a shared space. No matter what, you don’t have that special feeling that you get when you interact with your readers on your own blog.
And finally, you don’t own Medium. Just like you don’t own Twitter or Facebook or Instagram. Your self-hosted blog though? That’s YOURS.
So, should you have a dedicated, self-hosted platform for your blog?
If you want to make more money than a few hundred bucks or even just a couple thousand, then yes, you should have your own dedicated, self-hosted blog.
If you want to help people and form a true and deep connection with your readers, then yes, you want a self-hosted blog.
If you want to own your space, then definitely, for sure, you want to have your own blog.
So, why Medium?
Because, just maybe, you like to write about topics outside of your blogging niche. Or even if you want to write about your particular niche, you also want to tap into a wider audience. Medium is a great place for doing that. AND, it allows you to make money with your stories. AND you can connect with other writers which can be great! It opens up an opportunity to network outside of your comfort zone. And well, the fact that you can write about whatever you want and whenever you want and not feel the pressure of consistency or promoting your articles, makes writing on Medium a stress-free endeavor.
So, let me summarize that for you. Here are the reasons (again) why you should write on Medium:
- You want to write about a variety of topics that you don’t want to write on your own blog.
- You want to make some money while doing the above (you may or may not make a whole lot, but anything extra is great!)
- You want to drive some of that Medium traffic to your blog.
- You want to network with other writers.
- You just love writing. Period. And so you’ll write on whatever platform will let you do it. As simple as that.
How to Get Started on Medium (to Make Money)
Now we’re talking!
First, some disclaimer. You can make a lot less or a lot more than $100 on Medium. Lately, I’ve been averaging around $100-ish on Medium per month. I know of others who make much more than I do, and some who make a whole lot less.
First, Open a Medium Account
This is simple. Just go to Medium and Click “Get Started” on the top right corner of the page. Medium lets you sign up with either Facebook or Google. See images below.
After you’ve signed up, Medium will show you some topics. Choose as many as you’re interested in. This allows Medium to curate content for you based on your interest. I advise that you not only pick the topics you’re curious about, but also the topics that you wish to write about. Then Medium will curate content to show you what others are writing about in those topics.
Once you’ve chosen the topics, click on “Start Reading”.
Become a Medium Member
Ok, so this is not a pre-requisite for writing on Medium or even earning money on Medium. You can do both with a free account. That said, membership costs only $5 per month, which is basically the cost of a latte at Starbucks. So, unless you’re dead broke, you should definitely sign up for a member account.
A member account has two very distinct purposes.
I’ll mention one of them now, and the second one a little later (it’ll make more sense then.)
A member has access to unlimited stories, including “locked” stories. A locked story is basically a story that’s eligible to earn money, whereas an unlocked story is free and the author doesn’t make any money off those articles (when you want to earn money with your stories on Medium, your stories will also be locked behind a paywall). With a free account you can read the free, unlocked stories, as many of them as you want, but only three locked stories per month.
If you’re a writer, you must also be a reader, so why not sign up for the member account, right? Also, some of the greatest stories on Medium by some of the best writers are usually locked.
And that’s great! I’ll tell you why shortly.
Once you become a member, you have access to an unlimited number of stories, both locked and unlocked, and that’s when the fun starts.
Do Your Research
Just like anything in life, earning money on Medium also takes a bit of work. Not a whole lot, not the kind of work you do on your own blog. But some work, yes.
Most of it has to do with understanding the platform and the kind of stories that get more traction. And that requires some research. For the most part, I suggest reading the articles that Medium pushes out to you. The featured stories at the very top are great. Read those. But also read some other articles that Medium shows you based on your interest. As you keep reading and interacting with stories, with time Medium algorithm will start to push out more content according to your personal tastes.
The reading experience only gets better with time!
Take notes on what kind of stories are trending, the type of story titles are getting more hits (your traditional blog title tactics do not always work on Medium), etc.
Start following some of the writers whose stories you like. Start leaving meaningful comments on articles you like.
How Medium Pays Its Writers
Remember the 5 bucks you paid to become a member?
Well, that’s for a good cause.
I’ve already mentioned one before, but the second reason is that the 5 dollars are divided up to the writers whose [locked] stories you’ve interacted with. There are several ways you can interact, such as, you can “clap” on a story, you can “highlight” parts of a story, you can leave a comment, etc. Medium takes a whole bunch of things into account when deciding how to best allocate your money to the writers whose work you’ve enjoyed, and the aforementioned are just a few of them.
So, basically, when you start writing (and making money) on Medium, the money you make comes from fellow readers just like yourself who’ve signed up for a member account. It’s only nice that you do the same, right? Pay it forward!
How to Become a Writer on Medium
Writing is easy. Just click on your profile picture on the top right corner of the page, and that will show you a bunch of options you have. One of them says “New Story”. Click on that, and then click on “Write a Story” on the next page. That’s it.
However, to be able to lock a story behind the paywall, in other words, to be able to write a story that’s eligible to make money, you’ll need to sign up for their partner program. On the same menu as before, you’ll see an item that says “Medium Partner Program”. Click on that and then follow the prompts to sign up for the program. It’ll walk you through some payment information that Medium uses to pay your earnings.
Medium uses Stripe to pay all writers. So, unfortunately, you won’t be able to make use of this program if you’re in a country where Stripe doesn’t work.
Once you’re all set up, you can start writing and making money right away.
Locking a story is straight-forward. On the new story page, you’ll see this text at the top of the title of the story: “Make this story eligible to earn money through the Medium Partner Program”. Click on this text, and a popup with the option to make your story eligible will open up. Check this option, and save.
And there you have it. Once you publish this article, it will be locked behind the paywall, and be eligible to make money based on how other paid members interact with your story.
Tactics to Help You Make More Money
Initially, when I started writing on Medium, I didn’t make a whole lot. But eventually, this number grew. And by eventually, I do not mean in a couple of years. I was able to cross my first $100+ on the 5th month after signing up for the Medium Partner Program. I made a little over a dollar on my first month, so…
Not too bad, right?
Now, here’s what I know from my own experience, and what other, much more accomplished writers, have said about making money on Medium.
First, you need to play nice. Follow the rules. Do not hard-sell on your articles. In fact, I’ll say, do not sell at all. Medium doesn’t seem to like a lot of self-promotion. It’s not social media, and you shouldn’t use it as such.
Second, interact with other writers. What goes around comes around… or something like that. Do not play the follow-for-follow game. Some writers tell you to do that, but really, it’s not worth it. You see, I love Medium. I don’t want to follow someone just for the sake of getting a follow back. I want to follow writers whose work I enjoy regardless of whether they follow me back or not. And really, that’s just how I roll. You can take my advice here, or you can take some other person’s advice who’ll tell you to follow a hundred people a day and hope that some of them will follow you back… what’s the point? But oh well…
Third, use the Medium trends for their popular stories. Use formatting the right way. And always use a good image. As you can see, Medium shows an image with all the articles. If you do not have an image, your article will look bland among others, and curators will be less likely to distribute your stories (more on this shortly). Use shorter paragraphs (there’s some debate about that. I’ve seen articles with longer paragraphs do well, so it really depends on the content and the context). Use Pull quotes (Medium seems to like them). And just make sure your article is well written and edited.
Fourth, write often. Some writers who make serious money on Medium say that you should write at least three times a week, but more if possible. I follow some writers who write every single day! These guys must make a whole lot more than $100 per month. Me? I write 3-5 articles… per MONTH!
Fifth, use tags. You have the option to use up to 5 tags for each of your stories. These tags are important because that’s how Medium knows who to show your article to. For example, if you write about data science, and tag accordingly, Medium will show your article to those who’re interested in that topic. Again, do not abuse this. Use all 5 tags to give yourself as much exposure as possible, but make sure these are relevant.
Last but not least, write well. Again, properly edit to make sure you do not have grammar and spelling errors. Where you can trim, trim. Where more context is needed, add some. Try to write a good story. And tell a story. Medium is for story-tellers, and it becomes pretty obvious when you read some of their most popular stories (in fact, how cool is this that Medium calls it a “story” and not an “article” or a “post”). So yeah, try to tell a story. Even if it’s a short one, in all of your pieces. And remember, you make money based on how others interact with your story. If people don’t find your writing interesting or useful, they won’t interact with you, and you won’t make money!
Bonus: Write for Publications. So, I don’t know what to tell you about this. Thing is, I’ve read a bunch of people say that publications are great! It worked for me the first time I wrote for a publication. I think I got 20 something new followers in just one day. But ever since then, whether I write for a publication or just on my personal account, it doesn’t seem to make any difference. I’ve tried, really. I’m part of a few really well-known publications on Medium, and yet, I can’t tell a difference.
In conclusion, this is what I think works on Medium. Write often (I am determined to try this out this year). Write well put together content, and use proper, relevant tags.
Finally, here’s what happens when you published a locked post. Medium has curators. Yes, real people, who go over every locked piece to see which stories are good, and when they like something, they “distribute” it to proper categories. This means, when readers want to read about a certain topic, let’s say, data science, they’ll find your article in that section. This means more eyeballs to your story. That’s why you should always do your best to write well. because once an article gets distributed, you start making more money. A make a whole lot more on distributed articles than the ones that do not get distributed.
So, there you have it. That’s how I’ve been averaging $100-ish per month for the last few months on Medium writing about 3-5 articles per month, about my personal life and experiences. Not too shabby, right? You can check out my Medium profile if you want. And if you’re a blogger, I’m assuming you love writing. So there, another platform for you to write on 🙂 AND make money on!
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